I often ask myself what the hell I’m working out for. Why does anyone? It seems absurd. My Grandfather worked his arse off for General Motors for 50 years. And at the end of his day, all he wanted to do was come home and sit in his chair. He was exhausted. Now? His grandson, whose job usually involves sitting in a chair looking at a screen all day, purposefully lifts up and puts down artificial weight, made somewhere overseas and shipped across the world, for the express purpose of purposeless effort. Yep, that’s what his grandson does in his free time. For leisure. Y’know, when he’s not riding his silly exercise bike that (purposefully) goes nowhere.
The chair has become the work, and is no longer the respite. The respite is now the exhaustion.
What Grandpa must think, somewhere in the great beyond.
But then there’s the next generation. Grandpa wouldn’t workout and neither is much of Generation Z. There’s a reason why E-Sports are growing in popularity, as opposed to “traditional” on the field stuff. The upcoming generation values being good at manipulating computers. Not blocking and tackling. Which makes total sense. Because the old values of brute strength and speed don’t matter much anymore when we’re no longer hooking plows up to oxen. Or, keeping the line at GM going 24/7.
“What are you doing?”
“Picking up artificial weight which has been created for the sole purpose of doing so.”
“Ah. Makes total sense.”
So again… what’s the point of working out? Is it pure aesthetics? Aesthetics as a way to transmit power/health/safety? But that goes back to being an outdated value once again. Muscles don’t = protection anymore. They haven’t for a while.
Pain. I think the point, is pain.
There’s some research indicating that barring major traumas which short circuit the human brain (Iceberg Slim covers this), most humans have a limited capacity for discomfort. You have a discomfort bucket. Once it’s filled? Sure, other stuff is still uncomfortable, but your bucket is more or less full for the day. You’ve used up those chemicals. And therefore, all the rest of the junk just doesn’t seem as bad. So if you can learn to like controlled discomfort like exercise (because you initiate it and it results in some positive outcomes like better health, good brain chemicals, and improved aesthetics even if that is an outdated value), then all the other crap that gets thrown your way? Not as bad! And if all the other crap isn’t as bad? Then you can do more! Both in and outside of your workouts. Especially outside. Because pursuing your own personal fitness improvement (run your own race, comparison is the thief of joy) is like dressing better. It’s just a tool. Use it to do something better.
Editor’s Note: This post originally ran as a too-long start to an Under Armour sale post. But, some had suggested it should be its own stand-alone post, and thus easier to dig up for those days when you (and I… especially I) don’t feel like doing those pullups. Or planks. Or burpees.